Emily Reidel is not your average 26-year old woman. To start, she’s the captain of her own gold dredging operation in the remote village of Nome, Alaska. When she’s not plunging into the depths of the icy Bering Sea looking for precious metal, she’s training as an opera singer—her true passion in life. Oh, and there’s also the fact that she’s now a reality TV star on Discovery Channel’s popular Bering Sea Gold.
Naturally, we couldn’t wait to pepper her with a million questions about being a woman in a man’s world (gold mining), love and relationships (she now competes for gold against a former boyfriend), and how the hell she balances such very different activities—opera and gold mining (hint—it’s not easy). When we got to talk to her, we decided she may just be one of the most bad-ass and insightful chicks we’ve talked to. Here are four reasons WHY:
Listen to Maayan and Lauren’s chat with Emily
Reason #1 She’s a feminist AND a realist:
“In Nome, when you’re a woman, you’re fascinating object,” Emily says, admitting that it’s not really effective to try to “preach feminism” to the men up there. Rather, she relies on her success as a captain and gold miner speak for her. “I can only perform in such a way that will eventually demand respect from them.”
Reason #2: She doesn’t let a dismal dating scene get her down
Speaking of men–talking with Emily revealed that the dating scene in Nome leaves a lot to be desired. “I just have to accept I’m in a very isolated part of Alaska where what makes a man eligible is how clean his teeth are,” she says, tongue not completely in cheek. Emily is accepting about her single status, having gone through heartbreak with her former boyfriend and colleague, Zeke Tenhoff, and having been recently dumped by another boyfriend due to the problem of long distance. “I’m just trying to find gold right now, I don’t have anybody. At this point I’d have to say I’ve chosen career over relationships, but I don’t think it has to always be one or the other, ” she told us.
Reason #3: Despite drama with her dad, they’re best friends
In addition to competing against her one-time lover Zeke, Emily also competes against her dad, Steve Riedel…which can make for some tense moments when out looking for gold. Still, “there are times when my dad is almost my only friend out there,” Emily says. “He’s not a very good gold miner, bless his heart, but he can be, at times, profoundly wise.”
Reason #4: She struggles with juggling her passion and her practical needs, just like us
And her opera career? Emily admitted it’s sort of been put on hold, and as a result leaves her cranky. “I’m basically a repressed artist in Nome… I try to engage my artistic side, but it’s like I’m on a spiritual fast.”
As you’ll hear in the interview, by the end of our chat, we were full on girl-crushing on Emily. Her honesty and insight made her fit RIGHT in to our Gossipisty ways. She admitted she finds it pretty easy to open up, after being on a TV show ranked SECOND in overall ratings for cable. “At this point,” she says, “America is like one big girlfriend of mine.”